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Investigating Assessment Opportunities from an Authenticity Lens in a Complete, Classroom-based Curriculum

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Title: Investigating Assessment Opportunities from an Authenticity Lens in a Complete, Classroom-based Curriculum
Author: Hobbins, Justine
Department: Department of Human Health and Nutritional Sciences
Program: Human Health and Nutritional Sciences
Advisor: Ritchie, Kerry
Abstract: Increasing class sizes and resource constraints in higher education may lead to reliance on traditional teaching and assessment methods, despite research that demonstrates their association with a surface approach to learning and lower-order thinking skills. A well-regarded approach to support student learning is authentic assessment (AA). However, limited studies have explored how authentic assessments may exist in the context of large, classroom-based curricula. Notably, it is proposed that assessment design is prompted by a common impetus for change. This thesis implemented a case-study approach to evaluating student learning in a large classroom, and then considered the complete curriculum to document the prevalence of authentic assessments, and further how assessments shifted in response to a common impetus for change (i.e. COVID-19). Student learning was investigated in a large, lecture-based physiology course that models modest adaptations to traditional teaching (i.e. instructional scaffolding) and assessment (i.e. constructed response testing) methods. Findings revealed that this classroom context can support a deep approach to learning. While lower-order thinking skill performance declined, higher-order thinking skills improved. As assessment drives student learning, of particular interest in this course is the unique assessment method used. This research moved to consider assessments in complete curriculum (i.e. beyond one course). We documented all assessment opportunities within a complete health sciences curriculum. We developed the AA Tool (AAT), based on core dimensions of authenticity (realism, cognitive challenge, evaluative judgement – criteria, feedback) across a scale of low to moderate to high. In the face-to-face (F2F) setting, we applied the AAT to 457 assessments (n=62 courses). Few opportunities for highly authentic assessments existed. Following the shift to emergency-remote teaching setting (ERT), we applied the AAT to 517 assessments (n=61 courses). In the shift from F2F to ERT, courses made changes to assessments (number, type, authenticity). In both settings, feedback scored the weakest, though most improvements were made in this regard during ERT. Overall, these studies present a comprehensive overview of the authentic assessment opportunities students are exposed to in F2F and ERT settings, with practical suggestions for educators to consider.
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10214/26986
Date: 2022-05
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Related Publications: Hobbins, J.O, Murrant, C.L., Snook, L.A., Tishinsky, J.M., and Ritchie, K.L. (2020). Incorporating higher-order thinking and deep learning in a large, lecture-based human physiology course: can we do it? Advances in Physiology Education, 44(4). DOI: https://doi.org/10.1152/advan.00126.2019.Hobbins, J.O., Kerrigan, B., Farjam, N., Fisher, A., Houston, A., and Ritchie, K.L. (2021) Does a classroom-based curriculum offer authentic assessments? A strategy to uncover their prevalence and incorporate opportunities for authenticity. Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education, DOI: 10.1080/02602938.2021.2009439.


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